HRC37 – Iran: MRG calls on the HRC’s continued attention to the situation of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran
Human Rights Council
Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (item 4)
Thank you, Mr. President,
Minority Rights Group welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur on the Islamic Republic of Iran and recognizes Ms. Asma Jahangir’s outstanding service to human rights in Iran and around the world. Ms. Jahangir, whom we had the privilege to count as a Council member of our organisation and has been a tireless defender of the rights of all minorities.
The report of the Special Rapporteur rightly draws attention to the discrimination and harassment faced by unrecognized religious minorities such as Baha’is and Yarasan, the targeting of Kurds and other ethnic minorities for their political affiliations and human rights activism, and the socioeconomic marginalization of minority-populated provinces such as Sistan-Baluchistan.
MRG, the Ceasefire Centre, and the Centre for Supporters of Human Rights have documented the situation of minorities in further detail in a comprehensive report on violations against ethnic and religious minorities in Iran that we will launch here tomorrow.
Our report finds that Iran’s minorities are routinely denied access to justice, targeted on account of their religion or ethnicity, and denied equal access to education, employment and political participation. Minority-populated regions such as Khuzestan, Kurdistan and Sistan-Baluchistan are underdeveloped and side-lined, with higher poverty levels and poorer health outcomes. Minority activists are frequently punished harshly on charges of threatening national security, resulting in long prison terms and even death sentences. At least three quarters of Iran’s political prisoners are from ethnic minorities.
MRG is particularly concerned by the response of the Iranian government to the protests that erupted in late December 2017, which resulted in thousands of arrests, including in minority areas.
MRG urges the Iranian government to release all those detained or imprisoned in connection with peaceful human rights activism, and encourages the government to take concrete measures to implement the protections contained in the Charter of Citizens’ Rights and in human rights treaties Iran is a party to, including the provisions which pledge to end patterns of discrimination and marginalization of minorities.
MRG calls on the Human Rights Council to support the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran at this session, and to urge Iran to give access to its territory to the Special Rapporteur and the other thematic special procedures who have requested a visit to the country, in line with its standing invitation.
I thank you.